The web pages of Stephen Penney

WC Master's Speech, 2002

This speech has been certified 18. It is only suitable for people aged 18 or over. It will amost certainly have an adult theme, and might well contain scenes of sex or violence which are quite graphic. It might also contain full frontal nudity ande xplicit language, including sexual swear words. It is an offence to... No I'm sorry it's just an offence.

In fact it is the after dinner speech I wish to talk to about tonight.

I'd first of all like to thank Ian for his marvelous speech, but I must admit that Ian wasn't my first choice of guest speaker. I though wouldn't it be great this year to get someone famous.
Unfortunately the fee for some celebrities is rather high, and with only a free meal to offer I though it unlikely that any would agree. So I sent dozens of letters to Pop stars, Politicians, Game show hosts and so on in the hope that one, just one would agree to join us.
But alas, I had not one positive response. However, I thought you may be interested in hearing some of the "thanks but no thanks" letters that I received back. I received a rather prompt reply from one politician:

"Dear Mr Percy, I shall be delighted to attend your dinner, and deliver a speech."
However, that had been crossed out, and replaced with
"Sorry, won't be able to make it, will be otherwise engaged. Yours Mr J Archer".

Hmm. wasn't too sure about him anyway, I was really after someone with a bit more popularity. I received this letter back from Mr Bin Laden:

Dear Percy & Friends, a curse on your houses, you stinking sons of Western Infidel pig-dogs. May Allah in his magnificence hurl down gigantic stones from Heaven that will destroy your families and bring disease and death to all your kind. Signed Osama Bin Laden. PS Although I could probably make the disco, if that's ok with you.

I felt I wasn't aiming high enough in terms of celebrity status, so decided to go for the most popular of them all. The official office of God sent me this reply:

Dear Percy, due to the Omnipresence of God, The Lord will of course be present at your dinner, but after considering the fire risk involved in having a burning bush in a hotel function room, he will unfortunately be unable to give a speech.

The rejections arrived quite literally by the envelope load:

Dear Percy,
President John F Kennedy thanks you for your invitation, but regrets to inform you that he will not be able to attend your dinner, owing to the fact that he was shot dead in Dallas on November 20th, 1963. PS what were you doing at the time? We're conducting a small survey in the office.

Dear Percy, I would be delighted to attend your dinner, and will be at the hotel at 7pm prompt. Yours sincerely, Princess Margaret.

I'd like to read more letters, such as the one from the Queen Mother who was to talk about her latest trip, but I feel I must break from that to read to you something I found in the Archives of the College Youths. From the dinner report of 1725, it would appear that history has a habit of repeating itself:

"Sir Robert the Hardy, the honourable guest of the society, was unable to attend, and so his speech was entrusted to Percival, a troublesome youth of the time who was over fond of his ale, and Alas! for the speech was quite inaudible..."

Moving on, the one speech I always enjoy at the Welsh Colleges dinner is the Romance Officer's Speech. This year has been no exception as the speech from Zoƫ was truly excellent. But then I would say that, I wrote it. It didn't show, but apparently she was a little nervous, as many are before their first time.

Indeed, it has come to my attention that one if the prime difficulties in persuading someone to give an after dinner speech is nerves. In fact some people are so nervous that they will do almost anything to avoid give a speech.

And so, may I present: the top ten list of ways to avoid giving a speech at a Welsh Colleges dinner. Except of course I haven't got ten of them. And it's not so much a list as more of a disjointed ramble.

Well, to start with there's the standard excuses such as: -The dog ate it
-I've lost my voice
-Ooh sorry, was I supposed to give a speech
Or even just
-Sorry, can't be arsed.

But personally I prefer something a bit more original. For instance:

- Get someone to steal it. My past experience tells me this works very well. - Get drunk so people won't even let you speak. In fact, get so drunk that even if they do let you they won't be able to hear a word you are saying. Again, I speak from experience.
- As Alison might suggest, don't bother with a speech at all, just stand on a chair and exclaim "I'll shag you all!"
- Alternatively, do as Karen did and get someone to jump on you the night before the dinner. A night spent in casualty may well raise enough sympathy for the society to forgive the fact that you haven't written anything.

Unfortunately, this year I wasn't able to get out of it so here I am, with as you know: a speech prepared well in advance.